A fence is more than just a barrier. Used in imaginative ways, it can become an architectural feature that blends well with the style of your house, a landscape element that enhances the appearance of your property, or an accent piece that helps define a part of your yard or garden.In The Fence Bible hands-on home improvement expert Jeff Beneke provides an in-depth, comprehensive how-to encyclopedia that enables homeowners to choose and build the fences and gates that are best for their landscapeâ€”both for appearance and function.Beneke suggests the appropriate types of fence to keep the swimming pool secure, confine the livestock, keep deer away from the garden, or create outdoor living spaces. He then discusses the essentials of proper fence design and provides step-by-step illustrated instructions for planning, building, maintaining, and repairing any style of fence.
Here's what goes into planning, designing and buying a fence and the materials to build one.
Privacy, security, curb appeal, noise reduction: The benefits of residential fences are numerous.There also are plenty of practical reasons for a fence. "The place I always suggest starting with (is) function," says Jeff Beneke, author of "The Fence Bible."
Here's a look at what fences can do and how you can build or select the right one for your budget. AVAILABLE on Amazon, Ebay, Barnes & Noble, and Google Books
The first step is determining what you want your fence to do. Fences serve many purposes, including:
Security Fence: Even a fence only 3 feet tall can help deter prowlers, says Chris McGoey, a security expert in Los Angeles. "It is psychological," he says. "A fence denotes a property.
It says, 'This is my house, my property.' People are going to be reluctant to step over that fence. Even a small boundary fence will discourage people from cutting across your yard.
Privacy Fencing: Living your life shielded from the prying eyes of others is a luxury of private property. A high privacy fence, tastefully built, can give you room to let down your hair, no matter how small your deck or yard.
Decoration: A well-designed, professionally installed fence will frame your home and add tremendous curb appeal. It may also enhance your property value, depending on your neighborhood and the fence's design and quality.
Boundary: It's a good idea to define your boundaries, especially if you own a small lot. A fence prevents neighbors from encroaching on your property.
Safety: A fence offers peace of mind. They keep small children and pets safe from strangers, traffic and hazards such as swimming pools, high bluffs and ravines.
Garden protection: Just as a fence holds in your pets, it keeps stray animals and other pests from digging and defecating in your yard. Properly constructed, fencing around a vegetable or ornamental garden also can protect precious plants from foraging deer and rabbits.
Weather protection: Snow fences keep drifts from growing too large. A protective fence lets you enjoy a garden or deck in a windy area; Beneke says he likes a louvered fence for taming a windy patio.
Noise: A privacy fence can buffer some noise. Wood blocks noise better than most fence materials. Planting a hedge or other tall vegetation in front of the fence helps buffer noise even further. For serious noise protection, professional fence specialists offer noise-buffering blankets that can be pulled tightly over any fence. Costs for these products start at about $12 per linear foot for a 6-foot-tall fence.
The most effective fence for dulling sound is a tall, custom-built fence of foam-filled aluminum or composite, says Chris Policastro, vice president of operations at Production Fenceworks in Atlanta. This kind of fence costs $60 to $300 per linear foot for a 6-foot fence.
Cosmetics: Trash cans? Propane gas tanks? The neighbor's trampoline? A large or small fence may hide it. It's like putting makeup on a pimple, Beneke says. Planting a vine or shrub in front of it makes it even prettier.
Once you have a list of your fencing needs, take your specs to a professional fence contracting company and talk it over with experts. Even if you build your fence yourself, it helps to bounce ideas around and ensure you have the right expectations for your fence materials, design law and specifications in your individual rural, suburban or urban location.
Here's a scenario: Farmers who've built 6' high enclosures soon learn that deer can jump 8 feet. To remedy that issue take into account that an overhanging extension or one of the deer-fence ideas from Leonard Perry, extension professor at the University of Vermont, may be a viable solution.
In another scenario, Homeowners have installed chain-link and vinyl fences only to finding out that their homeowners association (HOA) bans them. So make sure you arm yourself with knowledge going into your fence project.
Fence costs can sometimes be steep. A lot of material and labor is involved. But costs always vary depending on your preffered materials and style. You can cut fence costs by and by choosing local species of wood. Get a couple estimates, look at thheir websites and credential when selecting a contractor.
Beneke, a proponent of doing it yourself, nevertheless says he warns against getting into a job that's too big for your skills or your time. Building a fence is a big job, and you deserve to have a fence that fits you and your needs.
(TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK'S FENCE POST: PART 2: A FENCE THAT FITS: BUILDING THE RIGHT FENCE FOR YOU AND YOUR BUDGET.)
Sources: MSN.com, The Fence Bible, More on residential fences